Mommy or Monster?

Psalm 139:14a (NRSV) “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

1 Peter 3:3–4 (NRSV) “Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.”

My uncle used to jokingly say, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugliness is to the bone” and right now I feel ugly. After experiencing 9 months of beautiful glowing skin and long luxurious hair, I have turned into a monster. No one tells you that after you have a baby you start shedding and your skin goes haywire because of the sudden hormonal change. Right now, I have the skin of a pre-pubescent boy. Every day I look in the mirror and ask myself, who is this woman? I’m not only covered in throw up, but my skin looks crazy and my hair looks awful. My husband reassures me every day that I’m still the young and beautiful woman he fell in love with, but he wonders where my confidence has gone.

Oftentimes, it’s hard for women to have confidence in themselves after having a baby. Everything changes with the pregnancy and you don’t really see the full effect on your body until after the baby comes. However, although I am feeling more like a monster than a Mommy these days, I do find confidence in the fact that my true beauty lies in my relationship with the Lord and His presence in my life. The Holy Spirit lives in me and that makes me beautiful.

The world puts a lot of pressure on women to “snap back” after having a baby. Just look at the images of celebrities they feed us of women post-baby–Heidi Klum, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry. They have flat stomachs with no stretch marks and their breasts definitely do not look like those that have breastfed a baby! However, what the magazines don’t tell us is that the average woman doesn’t have time to hit the gym immediately after having a baby, especially if she hasn’t found a sitter yet. Besides, who can go to the gym when they are breastfeeding around the clock? Church folk subscribe to this “snapping back” theory as well. Most comments are about your weight.

As women of God, we shouldn’t be concerned with “snapping back” more than we’re concerned with our spirits and relationship with God. We should ask ourselves, “Do I have a quiet spirit?” Am I humble? Am I a peacemaker? Do I build up or tear down? It’s the answers to these questions that will determine our true beauty. So, don’t beat yourself up if you packed on a few pounds during your pregnancy or if your skin and hair look crazy right now. You’re beautiful and never forget it. After all, Proverbs 31:30 (NRSV) says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

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